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Violence against journalists grows in Mexico, 30 journalists killed during Peña Nieto’s administration: Article 19 Mexico

With 11 journalists killed in Mexico, 2016 became the most violent year for the press since 2000, according to the annual report “Freedoms in Resistance” made by Article 19 Mexico.

The report, presented by the international human rights organization on April 6, recorded a total 426 aggressions against the press in Mexico during 2016. Of all cases, 99.7 percent have been unpunished due to State inaction, according to the analysis.

Of the 426 reported aggressions, 81 were for physical or material attacks, 79 for intimidation, 76 for threats, 27 for attacks on media and 11 were murders.

Ana Cristina Ruelas, director of the regional office for Mexico and Central America of Article 19, said during the presentation of the report that “2016 shows clearly that the intention of the violence against freedom of expression is to limit the flow of information that is delivered to Mexican society,” according to Sin Embargo.

Ruelas also said that through aggression, laws and malpractices, and at any price “they want to deprive us of any information that tells of poor government management, from all levels of the government.”

“The impunity that prevails in violence against the press (...) made 2016 a historic year that reflects unpublished figures: a 29.09 percent increase of aggressions compared to 2013 (the first year of this six-year government [of Enrique Peña Nieto]) and 163 percent compared to [former] President Felipe Calderón’s fourth year in office,” the report said.

The document indicates that 53 percent of the aggressions against the press during 2016 were carried out by public officials of different levels of government. That figure increased 37 percent compared to 2015.

“As far as the federal administration of Enrique Peña Nieto, 30 journalists have been killed,” according to the organization’s press release, which included journalists killed in March 2017.

Attacks against women journalists also increased 15 percent compared with 2015, with 96 reported cases.

Aggressions against the press during 2016 were directed mainly at reporters, with 184 registered cases. It also reported 56 cases of aggression against photojournalists and 46 cases to media outlets. The majority of these were digital media, including social networks, and print newspapers, the report said.

The five states where the organization recorded the greatest number of aggressions against the press were Mexico City (71), Oaxaca (60), Veracruz (58), Puebla (28), and Guerrero (26).

Three of the five states mentioned underwent an election process for governor. These are Oaxaca, Veracruz and Puebla. Four of the 11 murders recorded in the country last year were in Oaxaca.

According to the report, the Mexican government’s acquisition of several “espionage instruments” during 2016, with the supposed purpose of guaranteeing citizen security, put journalists and activists in a “vulnerable environment.”

“There is evidence that these [instruments] have been used without a court order and in complete opacity to access the private life [of journalists] and to obtain privileged information,” the report said.

Among the recommendations in the report’s conclusion, the organization asks President Peña Nieto for his government to demonstrate greater political will to combat violence against freedom of expression and information. They also demanded that the protection of journalists is necessary; for the government to publicly acknowledge that the main source of aggression against the press is the State; for impunity to not persist; and mainly, that material and intellectual authors of aggressions be identified.

One day before the presentation of the report, Article 19 Mexico also organized an international conference with the same name, Memory and Resistance. It was attended by leading journalists from Mexico and other Latin American countries, as well as experts on freedom of expression and human rights.


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